Questions Of Cash: Much confusion - and mistaken identity

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Q. My friend has 100 shares in BAA, but is due bonus issues that she has not received. She has been divorced, remarried, widowed twice abroad, had her papers destroyed in a house fire and the current occupier of one of her previous addresses keeps returning letters to BAA.

She has sent a copy of her original marriage certificate, the original share certificate, a change of address form and a letter of indemnity to Capita, which was handling share administration for BAA. When she contacts Capita, she is told the responsibility has been transferred to Computershare. However, when she contacts Computershare she is told to speak to Capita. RA, by e-mail.

A. Not only is this trail of events confusing enough, but Capita made matters worse by mixing up your friend's identity and records with those of another shareholder. When BAA was taken over by Ferrovial, your friend held 220 ordinary shares under three separate certificates. As she was not recorded as supporting the takeover offer, administration of your friend's shares are treated as those of "a dissentient shareholder" and became the responsibility of Computershare.

Unfortunately, one effect of this is that your friend has to persuade both Capita and Computershare of her change of name and address. She is due 33 outstanding dividends, worth £509.11, for the period that was administered by Capita. In addition, Computershare needs to change her details on its systems in order to process future dividends.

Capita insists that it did not receive the correct change of identity documentation, while your friend insists that she sent it. Our view is that if Capita does not hold the correct documentation then, irrespective of whose fault this is, your friend needs to submit this again. She can do this by using a commissioner of oaths in France, where she is currently residing. We have provided your friend with a list of British consuls in France who can assist in finding a commissioner able to help.

However, your friend has declined to cooperate and said that she intends to visit Capita later this year to provide the documentation in person. As she rejects our advice on how to resolve this, there is nothing further we can do.

Q. You reported last year my problems with NatWest (Questions of Cash, 7 October 2006), which doubled its exit fee from 1 per cent to 2 per cent on its trusteeship for a discretionary trust - a charge of £4,316. NatWest had provided no advance notification. I thought you would like to know that the Financial Ombudsman Service has ruled in our favour and NatWest has been instructed to refund the extra 1 per cent charge. I would urge other readers to similarly take their case to FOS. TW, Hertfordshire.

A. The Financial Ombudsman Service outcome is good news. We endorsed your decision to take the case to the FOS after NatWest refused to shift its position. The fees increase in our opinion was unreasonable and breached the spirit of the banking code that requires proper notification of fees rises (though the code does not cover administration).

The FOS achieved the outcome by arbitration, rather than by decision, so we cannot be certain what decision will emerge if other readers follow your example.

Q. My husband died in December 1995, leaving me a number of shares in British Gas. He initially had £150 on privatisation and then we had another £300 given to us and I think he bought more over the next decade. Can you explain how Capital Gains Tax is calculated when these shares are sold? Can you deduct the original value before Capital Gains Tax kicks in? And if so, how do you know how much the shares were worth when acquired? VP, by e-mail.

A. Maurice Fitzpatrick, senior tax manager at accountants Grant Thornton, says: "In computing any liability to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) the starting point is to compare the sale proceeds to the CGT base cost. In your case, the CGT base cost will be the market value of the shares at the date of your husband's death. You do not need to worry about what they originally cost.

"The market value of the shares in December 2005 may have been noted on the Probate Form following your husband's death; alternatively, if you write to the British Gas Share Registration Department (the address will be on the dividend counterfoils you receive), they should be able to tell you the market value per share (the price quoted on the Stock Exchange) at the time of your husband's death. Then you just multiply the market value per share by the number of shares he left, in order to arrive at the Capital Gains Tax base cost for the purposes of any disposal of the shares by you."

Q. My husband's Bank of Scotland debit card was swallowed up by a malfunctioning HSBC cash machine in July. As a result, he had to pay charges for making a withdrawal on his Barclaycard. We've not got anywhere trying to get compensation from HSBC. LR, London.

A. HSBC has now agreed to repay the charges and interest related to your husband's Barclaycard cash withdrawal.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. Please do not send original documents. Write to: Questions of Cash, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS;

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